Is it enough time now? To look back on the year 2014 with some perspective, I mean. It's been a very mixed year for me personally. Joyous family occasions and visits in the first half of the year made it go down sweet and smooth in one long, breathless swig. But then a whole lot of things happened in the second half, some mere irritants and some rather awful. They steadily drip-dripped all through, eroding morale and mood. So I kept putting off the stock taking, the mental toting up of pluses and minuses. Meanwhile we are already halfway through January and the first few global disasters have already muddied the waters - Charlie and Boko Haram. And while je ne suis pas Charlie, je suis Ahmed more likely, and je ai eu some sort of epiphany definitely. There is never going to be a better time, for anything. This is the way it is, warts and all, and if I want to sum up, it will have to be done with them included. I can't slice into time, hold up a skein to the light, turn it this way and that, to make the past look or feel better than it was.
The worst of course was death, and last year it happened to come in threes. First a friend, then an aunt, then a friend's mother who I called aunt, and who had once done up my hair as a child, which incidentally my real blood-aunt had never done. That's how my life has been, strangers and friends have done for me what relatives normally do, and I see this repeated in my son's life as well, the perk-pitfall of expathood. But I digress. In between the deaths, there were the usual annoyances of relocation - the shipment took ages to arrive, a couple of books were slit into halves by the customs while checking for contraband, a few possessions of no particular value but prized nevertheless, got lost or broken.
Somewhere along the line, my connect with Bahrain snapped, a place where I was happy to be previously, now feels vaguely strange, strangely claustrophobic. On the other hand, my connect with Egypt, which seemed to have snapped clean as I had got ready to move and pack over the long summer, I now find hasn't really, ragged threads here and there persist and surprise me still. Even the usual remedy of going away on a holiday and then the return, that coming back to own spaces and the aha moment which usually drives the nail home as to where home really is, failed to work this time. The son was supposed to go on a school trip, a strategy I had thought would settle him in, but backfired big time as the visa didn't come through in time. At the very start of our holiday in mid-December, he had a nasty fall and hurt his ankle, and we ended up going to the airport via the orthopaedic surgeon's clinic. Fortunately it wasn't a fracture, but a ligament injury can be almost as serious. He is a total trooper and happily trudged on with an ankle brace for the holiday, but our enjoyment was rimmed with concern and initial panic. A mixed holiday to round off a mixed year.
But it's not all bad. It never is. There have been highs as well. Writing-wise, and family moments; spikes of enjoyment and laughter with friends. I have finally taken control of my health, and have resolved to sort myself out in 2015 once and for all. Trying some alternative medicine right now, which admittedly isn't working, but we'll see. A time frame of three months, and then I dive into more intrusive treatments, which I have been avoiding for the past five years because I am a bit scared of it. Wealthier and wiser seem elusive, but healthier is an objective I can do something about! And I'm going to get a grip on the anxiety and the needless panic.
I know I feel this every January, I felt this way about 2014 as well, and boy, was I right! This year too feels important somehow, meaningful in some obscure way, as if I am just months or weeks away from something greatly significant. As if the changes haven't finished with us yet. I don't know whether that change is going to be for the better or worse, I hope it is for the better, but I know as long as we hang in together, we will manage to cope if, by chance, it is not.